CaribZone Commentary: Aubrey Campbell –Monday, August 15th.
Gentle folks, it’s another great day to be a Jamaican, living in these United States of America. God is good, but let me be clear. I am not a USA hater, I just can’t bet against my countrymen and women in sports and especially track & field athletics.
You are always warned of the danger of, ‘staying on the cow’s backside and a cuss it/him’, so I have to tread carefully, here!
Never mind queen ShellyAnn’s tears or the disappointment of Yohan, in the sprints which concluded in a flash of brilliance that will forever light up the annals of track & field athletics, globally.
Last evening, after a four day tour of New York City and parts of Westchester County, I found myself in a little nook inside the Queens Center Mall, between Queens Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway, watching the event of a lifetime!
And please do not ask me what or who lives at that address or who was I with. See nothing, say nothing!
Waking up this morning, I uncovered myself and with the lyrics of one legend rocking every fibre of my being, I got off the bed. Here I am, not singing but humming the words from the song ‘Bad Card’ for a better understanding and to put in its proper perspective, the near indescribable achievement of Usain Saint Leo Bolt, the greatest athlete of our time!
Where is the Rastaman, when we need him. Sing with me folks….Dem a go tyad fi si wi face, cyaan get wi out a did race..!
Enough of that song as I know a lot of you will slip into another era, when that song became a campaign anthem during one of the most defining period in the short history of Jamaican politics. Nuff said, Comrades and Laborites, all!
How could a song written decades ago, be so relevant today! The answer..prophecy, brethren, prophecy! And how could the cranium of someone, so humble in person, encapsulate the mind of one person, with such vison and energy? The answer. Only when that person is a prophet…in waiting!
Going over the sequence of events, I know some parts of it will get lost in the translation, like Mrs. Frazer Pryce passing the baton seamlessly and effortlessly to Elaine Thompson. Same camp, same coach, same discipline.
ShellyAnn’s tears are my tears because it represents grace and passion. No waiting for another, eternal four years for a successor to step in and step up! Seize the moment. No time like the present!
You notice that up to now, Gatlin is not even a part of the conversation, and if you remember clean and clearly, right after the USA National trials in June, and the results of the sprint finals were posted, I said in this very same space, in this very same forum that, if Justin Gatin won the USA national trials with such ease, another Jamaican Olympic gold was on the card. The only question I had going in, was, who will step to the podium, Bolt or Blake?
I don’t like to play politics v sports, but I think Gatlin should petition the Feds to investigate the IAAF and IOC, for working behind the scene to ensure a Bolt victory and to see what part the Russian Federation played! Sounds familiar? Then again, I do not know what political stripe Mr. Gatlin wears on his sleeve and not that I am keenly interested, either!
Speaking with my sister in MBJ, just hours before Sunday night’s fireworks, she was very ‘excited’ that up to that point, that the Games of the 31st Olympiad in Rio, were ‘not excited’. You get the drift. The pull from previous Olympics was missing, is what she meant. I will agree with her, up to the time and just before the men’s sprint finals!
Right or wrong, it’s a matter of perspective, but there is no question that after Sunday’s heroics, including the first playing of the national anthem of Jamaica, the Rio Olympics JEEP is out of neutral and into the drive phase!
And as part of the conversation, here’s the IAAF’s version of what transpired last evening!
If Usain Bolt established his living legend status at the London 2012 Olympic Games, athletics’ answer to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy rolled into one carved yet another notch in history when he became the first man in history to land three successive Olympic 100m titles.
The Jamaican global icon recovered from a sluggish start to run down his US rival Justin Gatlin in the final 30 metres to stop the clock in 9.81 and clinch gold by a clear margin of 0.08.
It was the slowest time of his three Olympic successes but nobody in the near-capacity Olympic stadium seemed to care, the chants of ‘Bolt, Bolt, Bolt’ echoing around before and after the race.
History had been written once again and the ‘triple triple’ is well and truly on as he chases a record-equaling nine Olympic athletics medals to match the achievements of Finnish distance legend Paavo Nurmi and American sprinter/jumper Carl Lewis.
Sunday night was Bolt’s seventh Olympic gold medal.
Gatlin – who became at the age of 34, the oldest man ever to win an Olympic 100m medal – had to settle for silver to complete the full complement of Olympic 100m medals, having also struck gold in 2004 and bronze in 2012.
Completing the podium was Canada’s rugged but effective Andre de Grasse, who trimmed 0.01 from his lifetime best to run 9.91.
Coincidentally it was the same 1-2-3 as the World Championships in Beijing 2015, except on that occasion De Grasse shared his bronze medal with Trayvon Bromell.
Bolt, who next goes to his marks on Tuesday morning’s 200m heats, said of his victory: “Somebody said I can become immortal. Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal. It was brilliant. I didn’t go so fast, but I’m so happy I won.”
Gatlin was satisfied with his efforts saying: “We work 365 days a year to be here for nine seconds. At the age of 34, to race these young guys and still make the podium feels so good.”
Introduced to the crowd in gladiatorial fashion, the eight finalists emerged from the tunnel one-by-one, which made for great theatre.
Ivory Coast’s Ben Youssef Meite chose to beat his chest when jogging into the stadium. Akani Simbine of South Africa looked like the cat that had got the cream.
Gatlin, a man who still polarizes opinions because of his controversial history, was roundly booed by the crowd while Bolt – competing in a special custom-made uniform for the final – milked the applause and stepped out on to the track with arms outstretched in a pose resembling Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
Once the gun went, Gatlin, who was running in lane four, two lanes inside Bolt, who made his customary slick start, although Simbine was actually the quickest away.
By comparison Bolt – who had the second slowest reaction time – somewhat lumbered out the blocks and after 20 metres was last of the eight-man field.
At the halfway point, Gatlin’s advantage had extended with Bolt needing to make up at least two metres.
Yet as the race unfolded the giant Jamaican, with all his experience, refused to panic and almost within the blink of an eye had caught and passed the US sprinter.
He was champion, again, while Gatlin has to settle for silver.
De Grasse himself added another medal to his rising swag after unleashing a strong late finish to take the bronze.
The 2012 Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake produced an accomplished piece of sprinting to claim fourth in 9.93, his fastest 100m time for four years.
Simbine – the first South African in an Olympic 100m final for 84 years – performed highly creditably.
He was holding a medal position with 20 metres remaining only to see De Grasse and Blake flash by the final few strides and he had to settle for fifth in 9.94.
Meite, who had set a national record of 9.97 in the semi-final went 0.01 quicker again in the final to place sixth.
Completing the top eight, but performing under-par on this occasion, were European record holder Jimmy Vicaut (10.04) of France and 2016 world indoor 60m champion Trayvon Bromell of the USA (10.07).
But the final word should go to the first man in history to secure a hat-trick of Olympic 100m titles who simply added: “I told you guys I was going to do it.”
Should we have ever doubted him?
Folks, keep our athletes and sports ambassadors in your prayers as they go for more gold and glory for Jamaica, Land we love!
That’s today’s conversation. You have the last word. Do not keep it to yourself. Caring is sharing, so share your thoughts.